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Ginny Johnstone ’52

Ginny Johnstone ’52 shares how she has stayed connected to SSSAS during the pandemic, memories of St. Agnes, and more!
An unexpected reconnection with St. Agnes and a new friendship:
Call it serendipity or, as I prefer, divine intervention. I could never have imagined that my return to St. Agnes after almost 70 years would begin as it did. I try to walk every day, weather permitting, and set out one day last October with no particular destination in mind. As I drove around the neighborhood, I found myself on Fontaine Street and realized I was headed straight for the Lower School. I was happy to imagine getting my exercise on the playing field where I had enjoyed so many field hockey games. I parked and, as I was getting out of my car, a security official pulled up in his golf cart and told me very politely that the campus was closed to visitors. I introduced myself as a 1952 alumna, said I understood, and was ready to leave when he said he would make an exception for me, so we enjoyed a walk on campus, outside. The rest, as they say, is history. The security employee was Tim Honig, and we have since enjoyed many walks-and-talks (as I call them) ever since. We have a nice friendship, our conversations bridging both past and present incarnations of the school.

Tell us about your time at St. Agnes School:
I was at St. Agnes from fifth grade through twelfth. My sister, Elizabeth Miller, was there at the same time, three grades behind me. We started there after my mother, Virginia Miller, was offered the job of Cafeteria Manager. She stayed another 25 years after we had both graduated. Two particular activities stand out: playing right wing on the Green Team in field hockey and working on The Lamb's Tail my senior year. More importantly, since at least my mid-20s, I have realized that I received an extraordinary education, not only in specific subjects but, most importantly, about "life". The school's demonstrated commitment to service had a tremendous impact on me and was instrumental in my devotion to the many opportunities for volunteer work I had throughout my life.

Were there any St. Agnes faculty members who were instrumental in your life?
After thinking about the teachers I had over eight years, I can honestly say that they were all instrumental in my life in one way or another. For example, each contributed to my pleasure in testing my knowledge with Jeopardy! contestants!

Mrs. Perkins (Sacred Studies) helped me to understand, even in my teen years, the importance of studying the Bible and appreciating the role it plays in our lives. Several years ago, remembering her classes, I took a course in "World Religions" at the local community college. The background I had as her student was critical as a foundation for the course.

Perhaps the most lasting impact on my life was studying English literature and grammar with Mrs. Fuller. Using correct grammar was important in my journey through college and graduate school. Later, I was undaunted by the thought of writing "proper" reports in my various careers as well as business and social correspondence.

I began my government career working first for the City of San Diego (Planning Department)  and later in the office of the Mayor of New Haven. After moving to D.C., while raising two children, I began work on a Master's Degree in Special Education and taught in the D.C. public schools for several years. After I moved to Alexandria, I taught and substituted there. At that time, I also began mentoring a student in second grade and continued until he graduated from T.C. Williams High School. 

What have you enjoyed most about being part of the Saints community?
Though I haven't taken a very active role in the community, it is so gratifying to connect the past and present, and knowing the quality of education and commitment to serving one's community never changes. One specific benefit of being part of the community was exemplified in my securing a summer camp scholarship for the young man I mentioned above from T.C. Williams .  He was thrilled - and proved to be an outstanding camper! I'll always be grateful for that experience. More recently, I met a young woman who came up to me outside a coffee shop when I was wearing a St. Agnes hoodie and asked if I was an alumna. She's a junior this year. We talked briefly, then exchanged phone numbers. I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with her--another connection between past and present.

Do you have a favorite St. Agnes School memory?
At 86, it's a little embarrassing to admit that what I remember most are the fun times we had.  These included: riding around in Mary's red MG convertible, pooling babysitting money with Anne to buy a small sailboat, attending every Friday night football game at GW (it was the city's only high school then), and what we called "study sessions" at the Hot Shoppes on what is now the Shirlington Circle. The "Mighty Mo's" were inspiring! At least that's what we claimed, and we all graduated on time!

What is next for you?
Until COVID-19 restrictions are loosened, I expect to spend a lot of time reading, doing crossword puzzles, gardening and continuing to meet Tim Honig (Lower School Security) to share stories! I enjoy keeping in touch with out-of-town friends by phone and email, especially my classmate Marcia Cole Doelman who lives in Massachusetts. When travel is permitted, I look forward to visits from my nephews and their families, all of whom live in New England. 

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We love to hear what our Saints have been doing. Tell us about your travels, classmates and other Saints you have seen recently, your professional life, weddings, babies, and other milestones. You can easily send us your news through our online Alumni News and Updates form, and we will do our best to include it in our alumni magazine. To share your photos, please send the original, unedited, high resolution jpeg file to mrobinson@sssas.org.
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Connect now on our LinkedIn Alumni group.

Age 3-Grade 12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia

Campuses

List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Age 3-Grade 5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304